CONCERT REPORT: London, UK, June 21, 2013

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Post by sturgess66 » Thu Jun 27, 2013 11:54 pm
Leonard Cohen – O2 Arena, London (21 June, 2013)

Posted on 27 June 2013 by Joe

It’s 7:30pm. The lights go down, and dark silhouettes spider quickly on stage to a frothily excited crowd. With barely time to plug in, Cohen and cohorts launch into “Dance me to the end of love” and the quietest stadium show ever witnessed.

A few calls of “Turn it up” go disregarded, so 20,000 pairs of ears just listened harder.

Cohen’s songs don’t need anthemic volume. They bring you closer to yourself rather than each other, and it’s in that that their universal appeal and commonality exists. They are songs you have always known – one suspects that archaeologists will one day dig up some palimpsest in a Jordanian desert and find Cohen’s lyrics written out in cuneiform, centuries before chromatic scales or Lydian modes were ever conceived.


So it’s not so strange that this master of word and song somehow achieves such intimacy in this vast gawping hall of 20,000 “friends” as he refers to us here at the O2.

With the volume turned all the way up to 6, it’s a masterful trick. You can hear the audience gently singing along, rapt in their own interpretations and memories sprung from a stream of classics floating past: Bird on a wire, Everybody knows, Who by Fire, and we have barely got started.

Cohen’s rich baritone vocals are interspersed with his self-deprecating wit – abundant in not only lyric, poetry and performance (with a truly comic keyboard solo) but also in his between-song patter. And his spoken verse is just as spell binding as song, with the great hall drinking up every last syllable of “A thousand kisses deep”.

Alongside Cohen is assembled a troupe of master craftsmen (and women), particularly in the guitars of Javier Mas and keys of Neil Larsen. Mostly they are contemporary-ish in age to Cohen, and you might expect this low-key affair to have all the intensity of a Saga holiday.

Nothing of the sort. Cohen down on knees opposite the fire-fingered Mas, working his archilaud into a tonal frenzy made for some jaw dropping highlights.

If this reads like a Leonard Cohen love in – then no apologies, that’s exactly what you get. No support act, just three hours or so of the master at work. No rewriting of classics to seek out new audiences – in fact the one negative would be that the majority of the audience had clearly carried Cohen’s canon in their heads and hearts for years, decades even – there were very few young acolytes.

For an icon nudging towards 80, a self confessed recluse at the end of a multi year tour who can still put out an inspired performance – well if you can’t make the effort to catch him now, you’re missing out on music’s core curriculum. It’s time to get educated.

by Matt Whipp
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Post by cohenadmirer » Fri Jun 28, 2013 1:30 am

Thanks to wirebirds for the really nice video (and great sound) :D :D
Leonard's work resonates
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Post by mattwhipp » Fri Jun 28, 2013 3:25 pm

My review of LC @ O2 on the 21 June published on Neonfiller - I'm getting some good feedback so hope you like it
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Post by sturgess66 » Sat Jun 29, 2013 1:23 am ... 78648.html
Howard Jacobson

Friday 28 June 2013
Seduced by the fedora, turned off by the trilby – a man’s hat can tell you a lot about his art

Famous hat-wearers, the painter L S Lowry and the singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen might seem strange bedfellows, but it's what's under that tifter that really counts
rsz_1137237086-independentUK.jpg (13.87 KiB) Viewed 6609 times
Today: two lessons in how to wear a hat. My exemplars are the painter L S Lowry and the singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen. Dr Johnson said of the metaphysical poets that in them “the most heterogeneous ideas are yoked by violence together”. We don’t hold with violence in this column, nor do we mean to court the cheap controversy of heterogeneity. Lowry and Cohen might, on the face of it, make strange bedfellows, but both took London by storm last week – Cohen at the O2 Arena, Lowry at Tate Britain – and both define themselves by the way they wear a hat.

Leonard Cohen’s hat is well known. You’ll find sites on the internet in which aficionados of the singer’s wardrobe go head to head, as it were, on the question of whether what he wears is a trilby or a fedora. To the literalists it comes down to the size of the brim and the nature of the crease at the crown, but I am of the party that thinks it’s how you wear it that determines what it is. If you are possessed of cool, you will turn a trilby into a fedora. Let’s face it, if you are cool, you will turn a knotted handkerchief into a fedora. And Cohen is nothing if not cool. Amazing that one can look cool at 79, but if he knows how to wear a hat, then a hat knows how to wear him, and a good one can take years off you.

Cool is not a word even his most devoted admirers would use of Lowry. But a giant blown‑up photograph of him in a capacious raincoat and a hat that is closer to a pudding than a fedora greets you at the entrance to the Tate show, and there can be no doubt that the hat is a statement of creative intent. Just so you know where I stand, I saw Cohen and Lowry last week, and while I had a good time with Cohen, I had an even better one with Lowry. Make no mistake, this is a magnificent – magnificently conceived and curated – exhibition. You could quibble about the paintings that aren’t there – the portraits, the seascapes and landscapes, the late, strange, corseted women – and you could take issue with the Marxist emphasis on him as a critic of industrialism. But to complain of anything is churlish given that it’s little short of miraculous that the Tate should have granted so unfashionable (and unfashionably popular) a painter an exhibition at all, given its scale, and given how convincingly, room by room, painting by painting, it makes the case for his genius. Visionary genius, I would say, allowing that you can be a visionary of godlessness, a seer of desolate, whited-out infinities – but that’s a matter for another day.

If there was a revivalist atmosphere at the Leonard Cohen concert – people singing along to songs they first heard before their now middle-aged children were born – there was a triumphalist feeling at the Lowry exhibition, where obscure enthusiasts and well-known collectors congratulated one another simply on seeing what they had never thought they’d live to see. “We did it!” someone who’d been buying Lowrys all his life and didn’t own a single painting by anybody else told me, as though he – he and I – had finally come in from the cold. The difference between our enthusiasm and that of Cohen’s fans was that while we loved our man’s work as much as they loved theirs, we didn’t want to be him. Who wants to be a man that wears a hat like that? Whereas to wear a fedora like Cohen...

I sat next to a Cohen lookalike at the O2 Arena. Not as aged or as switchblade lean, but wearing his hat identically and given to ironic, deep-throated mumblings. He knew every song by heart, and appeared, at times, as though he had passed over into another reality. Cohen sang what was in my neighbour’s soul. I won’t say everybody at the concert was transported to this degree, but most were. It was like being at a very sedate, elderly orgy. “Dance me to the end of love,” Cohen sang, and that was precisely where he took us – to love’s very extremities. Cohen’s peculiar genius is to have made masochism melodic, and by that means to have turned it into macho. Song after song celebrates erotic surrender. Fine by the man next to me. He yielded up his being. Fine by all the other 70,000 fetishists in the stadium. Sexually speaking, probably the sweetest, least aggressive people on the planet. But the question has to be asked whether art is best served by submitting yourself to it so completely. Can it even be said to be art that you’re enjoying when what you are is seduced?

The hat gives the game away. Love me under my fedora, Cohen asks. Ignore me, says Lowry under his shapeless trilby – for I am unlovable – and look instead at what I make. Very Manchester, this unwillingness to whisper sweet nothings. We are plain-speaking, sarcastic, self-denigrating, difficult buggers up there. We’ll meet anyone halfway, provided they are plain-speaking, difficult buggers too. For years, it seems to me, it was Lowry’s refusal to talk up his work, to give his paintings other than bog-standard titles, to aggrandise, to woo, to seduce us with the charm of paint or the allure of sentiment that kept him out of the mainstream.

Paradoxically, this reluctance to be idolised should have recommended Lowry to the sternest of contemporary critics – those aestheticians who, after Adorno and Laura Mulvey, cautioned against “libidinous engagement with the art object”. “Passionate detachment” was what they preached instead. Precious chance of that when the artist tips his fedora at you. Lowry’s charmless titfer, on the other hand, keeps us strictly in our place.
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Photos from London, June 21, 02 ARENA

Post by awaythelads » Sat Jun 29, 2013 6:43 pm

I had intended uploading my (limited) photos from last Friday night's performance, but I'm on holiday in Devon with very limited internet access. I would have had more (better?) photos had the security not firmly insisted that I put my camera away. Fair enough, I shouldn't really have had my camera there. Shame, as I was only a few feet away from a smiling Cohen at one stage. That image from an excellent performance shall remain confined to my memory.

Photos here:

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Post by Tripping » Sat Jun 29, 2013 9:43 pm

Some pictures I took at the O2: ... 391548541/

EDIT: Link
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Post by Cheshire gal » Sun Jun 30, 2013 12:17 am

Thank you awaythelads and Tripping for some really lovely photographs. Excellent job. :D
'...and here's a man still working for your little smile' -Leonard Cohen
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Post by TommyJ » Mon Jul 01, 2013 3:17 pm

"the one negative would be that the majority of the audience had clearly carried Cohen’s canon in their heads and hearts for years, decades even – there were very few young acolytes."

I spotted quite a few youngsters, actually. My 12 year old daughter was with me, attending her third LC concert (she'll get her 4th in September) but was by no means the only one. She genuinely seems to love his music and these concerts, and I'm alive to the possibility that she might just be going along with it to bond with me, but I am convinced it's more than that. She was furious when I went without her on the previous occasion!
London o2 July 2008 and Nov 2008, NYC (Radio City Music Hall) May 2009, Weybridge July 2009, Lille Sept 2010, Las Vegas Dec 2010, Wembley 8 and 9 Sept 2012, Dublin Sept 2012, Paris Sept 2012, London 02 June 2013, Leeds Sept 2013, London o2 Sept 2013 ... and hopefully more to come.
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Post by somewhat_nifty » Mon Jul 01, 2013 3:22 pm

My friend remarked to me what a young crowd it was at the O2, and I like to think that we're still young (early 30s, about the age LC was when he got started :lol: ). There were definitely plenty of 20/30 somethings there I thought, and as you say TommyJ, your daughter is quite the concert veteran now ;)
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Post by mydoglorca » Mon Jul 01, 2013 4:01 pm

Agreed regarding the age of the crowd. It was particularly noticable if you were fortunate enough to be down at the front at the end. I seemed to be surrounded by 30 somethings! :D
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